Counting down to Taunton Live 2017!

Just a few weeks to go now before the start of this year’s amazing Taunton Live Arts Festival on 24th July and things are hotting up in more ways than one!  I have created a page on this blog on which you can look at the full festival programme here.

Amid blazing sunshine and soaring temperatures, I am currently putting the finishing touches to all the pieces I am going to be taking to this year’s festival as time ticks rapidly by. It’s hard to imagine that this year’s event could possibly be even more exciting for me than it was in 2016 (see this post which is full of happy memories) – but the signs are looking good indeed!

This year I am going to be exhibiting framed quilled artwork in two different places.  Firstly, I will be participating in the Go Create members’ exhibition at the Winchester Arms which is situated right at the heart of the outdoor festival events on Taunton’s Castle Green. I have decided to take one new piece and two remaining from my church exhibition of 2016 which I hope may yet find buyers in this centrally-situated venue. Here’s the new piece, which is entitled ‘Love the Levels’:

It’s my interpretation of the peat-rich flatlands of the glorious Somerset Levels, featuring quilling strip ‘strata’ and gold/silver edged coils depicting light glinting on the muddy puddles of the moorland which stretches for miles around the iconic mound of Glastonbury Tor. I also added a quilled willow tree and reeds to complete the image which for me captures just a little of the magical essence of Somerset. I hope that visitors will like it.

This year I have once again been fortunate to have been given further exhibition space in Taunton through the Festival’s fabulous ‘Adopt An Artist‘ scheme. My ‘adopter’ this year is Priory Close Veterinary Practice in Canon Street who have generously offered me wall space in their spacious waiting room, plus some shelves which are visible from the street through very attractive arched leaded light windows.  I am going to take a few of my quilled ‘sculptures’ like these for the window space:

… plus the focus of my display of framed pictures on the waiting room wall will be birds. These will include my recently-framed ‘Resplendent Quetzal’ bird of paradise (pictured below), along with my quilled turtle dove, green woodpecker, and ‘murmuration’ of starlings (also below) which I created using Diane Boden’s amazing ‘fairy dust sprinkles’ technique that I learned at the Quilling Guild‘s last International Festival of Quilling in Liverpool in 2013.

Still on the subject of birds, I blogged earlier about the yellow bird I’ve created for the ‘origami wall‘ which is being planned for the Festival, organised by my good friend Fran who currently has people across Taunton folding origami birds by the dozen! I’m a bit concerned that my quilled bird may look a little out of place amongst all the folded ones, whilst Fran is worried that I’ve spent a lot of time working on something that may – sadly – end up being stolen or vandalised (it’s an outdoor installation). However, I’ve said I’ll be happy just as long as my bird flies on the wall long enough for me to get a photo of it. We’ll just have to see how it goes …

On Wednesday 26th July, I’ll be doing a ‘pop-up’ quilling demonstration in Taunton’s main shopping area, the Orchard Centre, alongside other ‘pop-up’ performances by various Go Create Taunton members. I plan to be making some quilled jewellery for the public to watch, and there will be an opportunity for them to have a go at quilling if they want to – I’ll have plenty of starter kits on standby! This event will also provide me with the chance to offer some of my quilled merchandise for sale – I’ve been making quite a few new cards and jewellery items this year.

On the jewellery front, I’ve been developing some new-style quilled pendants which my friends in Taunton are already quite excited about:

Over the months, I’ve progressed from multi-coloured creations based on solid coils to some interlocking hoop designs, inspired by some of the wonderful ideas shared by the eminent Australian paper jewellery-maker Licia Politis in the Quilling Guild’s ‘Quillers Today‘ magazine a few years ago. (Quilling Guild members can access this feature via the Quilling Now! blog).

As for cards … well, I underwent a bit of an ‘epiphany’ this Spring after attending a ‘Collage Creativity’ course at the wonderful Dillington House adult education centre.  Before going on this course, I had already started working on a few ‘mixed media’ designs featuring quilling, typography panels and embossing like this one:

However, after being told in no uncertain terms by the collage tutor to “put that craft knife down!!”, my designs have morphed into a much softer style with torn edges and distress inking along these lines:

I hope that the cards I have made will prove popular in Taunton.

These merchandise items will also be on sale at what I regard as my ‘main event’ at the Festival: I am honoured to be hosting a display of the Quilling Guild’s amazing GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title display of 6,241 quilled flowers at the Temple Church in Upper High Street, on 28th and 29th July from 12 noon – 4.00pm each day.

I’ll be demonstrating quilled flowers at this free event, and I’m hoping that lots of people will come to see the display which is being billed as one of the highlights of the Festival.

So, with all this going on, I’m sure you can imagine my rising sense of excitement as I count the days until the beginning of Taunton Live on 24th July. If you live in, or find yourself in the area during the Festival week, do please come and see me at one of my events, and take in the rest of the Festival which will be packed with spectacular art and performances of every kind. It is my absolute pleasure and privilege to be part of it.

Let there be light!

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Here’s the birthday card I’ve made for my friend Nicky … inspired by today’s post on The Quilling Guild members’ blog, and captured on camera inside my new photographic light box! I would never previously have attempted to photograph work on a dark winter’s night – but I’m pleased to say it’s turned out OK, thanks to some powerful lamps. No shadows, either! I thought about lightening the image even further using Photoshop, but didn’t want to ‘bleach’ the colours. It’s all still a learning curve for me.

I printed the lettering for the card via word processing software, and then set about decorating the initial letter with quilling, using a variety of different techniques. I could easily have gone on and on adding decoration, but I decided that sometimes ‘less is more’. Hopefully this was a good place to stop.

If you’d like to know more about the Guild’s blog and how you can access it, please visit this link. The blog has been going for nearly three years now, and I can promise you it’s a good read!!

A new direction

I’ve always been fascinated by collage work, so recently decided to try and combine a little collage with quilling! When I relocated my craft room recently, I came across several drawers-full of patterned/coloured scraps of paper that I’ve been collecting ever since I first got ‘into’ crafts – and now their time has finally come!

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This card, made for my daughter-in-law, uses the ‘sandwich’ quilling strip border edging that I described in an earlier post, lined up around a green square (her favourite colour!) which I had printed on to a card blank. I used two flower-shaped templates to create an overlapping design drawn on to a piece of cardboard (you can see the templates I used and the layout in the picture below.) Being drawn on to card, the individual segments were easy to cut out and draw around with pencil on my chosen background papers … then it was just a simple matter of cutting the papers and fitting the resulting shapes together on the card. Once I had glued them in place, it was time to add some quilling!

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I created the ‘Happy Birthday Helen’ paper using my word processing software with a mix of typefaces to produce a typographical square which could be printed out.

As a result of all this, I’ve definitely got the collage ‘bug’ and can’t wait to start using lots more different background papers in future projects.  Watch this space!!

Yes, I do quill flowers … occasionally!!

It seems I’ve got a bit of a reputation … and deservedly so, because it’s based on an indisputable fact: I’m not particularly ‘into’ quilling flowers!!

I CAN quill them, of course, and I have made many, many of them in the past during my ‘card-making years’ – but these days my preference leans much more towards abstract work than conventional quilled ‘prettiness’. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, and I guess it shows in style of the work that I generally produce.

However … I did make an exception this year when I created a card to enter into one of the prestigious craft competitions at Taunton Flower Show – a very high-profile horticultural and country show staged annually in the South West of England.

The requirement was for a card to welcome the arrival of a new-born baby, and here’s my design, made to conform strictly to the competition criteria of ‘an original design using no commercially-made embellishments’:

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Flower close-up copyrightedI decided that, if I was going to make a quilled flower, it would definitely have to be a ‘wow factor’ one! So I set to work with a combination of huskings made on onion-holder prongs, ‘curly’ pixie-hood loops (as first pioneered by my friend Janetta van Roekel), teardrop shapes and a central fringed pom-pom using a graduated strip – all in one of my favourite colour combinations.

I quilled the lettering using a multi-strip outline technique that I learned from Jane Jenkins and which we are, incidentally, going to feature in the Autumn 2015 issue of ‘Quillers Today‘ magazine because I’m sure that many other quillers will be interested to try it.

Anyway, my decision to go down a more conventional, ‘prettily designed’ route definitely paid off, as I won an award for this particular card at the Flower Show. That really meant a very great deal to me since Taunton (where the Show was held) has always occupied a very special place in my heart.

It goes to prove, too, that exceptions do sometimes prove the rule … now, will my reputation remain intact?

Reverting to type

I’m sure most quillers would agree that when it comes to card making, the written greeting can be the most challenging element to create, especially if – like me – you really don’t like ‘peel-offs’, and you need to complete a card in a hurry!

For me, peel-offs are tacky (in more ways than one!); hand-written greetings hardly ever look good enough (unless you are a skilled calligrapher); stencilling is OK but time-consuming … and quilled lettering? Well, that looks terrific if you’ve got the time and inclination to tackle it, but just isn’t a practical proposition when time is pressing.

As most of my followers know, I almost always look for a digital solution to challenges like these, and I generally find that my computer has the answer to my problems! Over the years I’ve been exploring many different ways of printing the backgrounds and greetings for my quilled cards – and lately I’ve started playing with typography to try and make my printed greetings an integral part of the overall card design.

Here are some of my most recent creations, all of which seem to have been well received. I like to repeat my greeting over and over in a mixture of different typefaces, thereby creating an additional design element in the form of a block of text.

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The cards in the row at the top of the picture have the text block printed at an angle to form a frame for my quilling. The other three cards utilise a printed text background cut out to fit precisely within an embossed frame.

I also utilised pre-printed card blanks for a workshop that I held earlier this week for a group of Girl Guides who wanted to create Mothers Day cards. I always find these workshops SO rewarding, as kids seem to pick up the principles of rolling and shaping coils so fast, and are soon adding their own creative twists to any pre-planned quilled design!

In this picture, you can see the basic sample card that I had developed for the workshop on the right, standing alongside one of the girls’ very pretty variations …

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… and here are some more of their lovely creations:

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Well done, girls – I’m proud of you!!

A passion for pixie-hoods!

Ever since The Quilling Guild endorsed Pixie-Hood Looping as a recognised technique seen in antique quilling, I’ve been fascinated by its creative potential … and when Janetta van Roekel demonstrated her ‘curly flowers’ variation at the Guild’s recent Shared Ideas Day, I was definitely ‘hooked’!!

I wanted to combine Janetta’s curled petals which are made using open pixie-hoods with much wider closed pixie-hoods that create a kind of calyx sheath. I’ve found that the two go together quite well, as you can see in this new card design:

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Several people have asked me for a tutorial since I first posted a design like this on Facebook, so here it is:

DSCF6729Make seven pixie-hoods from 7 x 8cm lengths of 15mm paper.

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Take 7 x 12cm lengths of 3mm paper in lilac, and glue a 12cm length of 3mm deep purple paper to each, gluing along its whole length. Allow to dry.

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Make the resulting two-tone lilac/purple strips into loosely open pixie-hoods, with the deep purple side on top.

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Trim the cut ends of each of the two-tone pixie-hoods (referred to from now on as the ‘cross-over end’) and pinch the opposite loop into a point, now holding the pixie-hood with the lilac side uppermost. Secure the pinched point with a dot of glue. Allow to dry.

Place a cocktail stick across the inside (lilac side) of each two-tone pixie-hood, thread the ‘cross-over end’ through and under the ‘pinched point end’ and pull tight, bending both ends up towards you before removing the stick. Then, holding both ends, pull again gently to tighten the curls.

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Insert the ‘cross-over end’ of each curled pixie-hood into a green pixie-hood sheath as shown, securing with a dot of glue. Press down for a few seconds with a cocktail stick until firmly attached.

Assemble on to the card as shown in the first photo, and glue a small fringed pom-pom in the centre. I also added a little printed ‘Happy Birthday’ greeting tucked in behind the petals, inspired by a special personalised touch in the lovely birthday card that I received recently from my talented friend Jill Chapman of Paper Daisy Card Design.